House GOP Leader Klarides OpEd: Despite a health crisis, hope springs eternal

Posted on March 20, 2020


Amid the onslaught of pandemic news that has jolted Americans and Connecticut residents over the spreading health crisis, jarring their daily routines, disrupting their lives and leaving them to question their faith in government, spring arrived on Thursday, March 19, at 11:49 p.m.

It came a little ahead of usual — in fact, the earliest spring in a century. Normally the season begins on March 20 or 21. In other times, this most certainly would have brightened our hearts and doors, as sunshine finally equaled darkness for the first time since last September. The first day of spring augurs warmer times ahead, just as baseball’s Opening Day normally crowds out sinking stock market reports and the latest virus tallies.

These, of course, are not normal days.

But you may have noticed some of the by-products of this ongoing health care calamity. We have seen more of our neighbors out walking on our streets. Family members and friends are checking in by telephone or via computer, not out of boredom but of genuine interest and concern. Workplaces may be empty, but co-workers are calling or texting to make sure everything is OK.

Maybe we can’t go to the library today, but we can go to the state park, even if it means staying six feet away from other visitors. Connecticut is nothing if not resilient. We always come together when it comes to adversity, and we will do it again.

Why is this significant or noteworthy?

Government — local, state and federal — always debates how to find the right path forward to safeguard our citizenry and enact policies in the best interests of the public. What has worked in the past, and what will work in the future? Now, we need short-term policies to address this coronavirus crisis that is shuttering small businesses, upending daily life and stressing our health care system. We need solutions that will mitigate its effects over the short term and ones that will dovetail with what is happening in Washington.

The solutions largely will require strong partnerships between the public and private sectors and the assistance of the federal government.

The shrinking legislative calendar — the session ends May 6 — likely means jettisoning any thoughts of enacting initiatives that either party hoped to put forth just six weeks ago when the session began Feb. 5. Even though the Capitol remains closed, legislative leaders are working together daily toward an agenda to keep government functioning in these very difficult times.

There will be time in the fall campaigns for politics, but not now.

Life happens.

Gov. Lamont and state officials have provided daily briefings about COVID-19. His economic development commissioner in the last few days spoke of a comprehensive economic package to help small businesses and for those who suddenly find themselves out of work. Businesses have made it clear that whatever we do, the assistance must be expedited.

Democrats and Republicans came together in 2017 to end a record-setting budget stalemate and passed a bipartisan budget tax and spending plan.

I am confident we can come together again, quickly, to do what is right by the people of Connecticut. They are counting on it.

State Rep. Themis Klarides, R-Derby, is the House Republican Leader.